Meet UNT Dallas Graduate Ysidro Motta

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Ysidro Motta

UNT Dallas undergraduate commencement speaker overcame self-doubt to meet challenges head-on and achieve his goals.

UNT Dallas graduate and Fall 2021 Commencement speaker Ysidro Motta didn’t have an easy start in school. He describes himself as a slow learner who needed extra help to keep up with his classmates.  He graduated from high school with a C average and considered his performance mediocre.

But despite his educational performance, Ysidro knew that he wanted to pursue higher education. “I knew how important it was to my parents for me to go to college since they did not receive a college education,” said Ysidro. “And I wanted to prove to myself that I could do better and be a better student, academically.”

Ysidro viewed college as a fresh start and opportunity to impact the world. UNT Dallas seemed like the perfect place to achieve his goals.

“UNT Dallas is a welcoming school with many resources. I didn’t have to worry about being in a class with 100 or 50 or even 40 students,” he recalls with appreciation for the unique university environment. “And I could walk down the hall and establish relationships with my professors.”

While at UNT Dallas, Ysidro joined the McNair Scholars Program, which prepares undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Besides workshops and opportunities to connect with other dedicated students and faculty mentors, the program helped fund his research and paid for travel to academic conferences.  

I put in a lot of work into this program,” said Ysidro. “And as a result, I received so many great things. I am proud to have been called a McNair Scholar.”

Midway through progress on his degree, Ysidro was earning good grades and feeling more confident about his performance. He seemed to have turned a corner but faced a difficult decision. “I had to decide if I was going to stick to my current degree plan,” recalls Ysidro. “Or if I was going to transition to pre-med.” He was concerned about the heavy concentration of difficult science courses, worried that he might fail.

It was Ysidro’s father who inspired his decision, encouraging Ysidro to move outside his comfort zone. The next semester, Ysidro transitioned to a pre-med pathway and began his biology and chemistry studies. Now, he has graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with minors in Biology, Chemistry, and Sociology.

On December 10, Ysidro shared his story with a packed house at the UNT Dallas Fall Commencement Ceremony. For Ysidro, that moment, standing on the stage wearing his honors cords and stoles, addressing his classmates, symbolized the culmination of his entire undergraduate career.

“I would not have been successful if it was not for the support at UNT Dallas,” he shared. “Specifically, faculty… allowing me to work in their research labs which expanded my knowledge on the biological and chemical sciences, and departments like the Learning Commons…”

Applying for medical school is the next step on Ysidro’s educational path. He’s applying for medical scientist training programs (combined MD/Ph.D.). He understands that he will have a long road ahead of him and that there may be challenges along the way. But he’s excited and ready for this next chapter. We can’t wait to see how his story unfolds.